sat 16/10/2021

Americana

Disc of the Day 10th Anniversary: Albums We Got Wrong

Continuing our week of pieces celebrating the 10th birthday of theartsdesk’s album reviews section, today it’s time to ‘fess up! Seven of our regular reviewers reflect on occasions when, in retrospect, their writing did not correctly sum up the...

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Disc of the Day Celebrates 10 Years of Album Reviews

Ten years ago yesterday, on Monday 14th February 2011, one of theartsdesk’s writers, Joe Muggs, reviewed an album called Paranormale Aktivitat, by an outfit called Zwischenwelt. It was the first ever Disc of the Day, a new slot inserted into...

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Album: Steve Earle & The Dukes - JT

Among the many tragic deaths last year was that of Justin Townes Earle, son of Steve Earle, who died in August, felled by the demons his father had vanquished but which Townes Van Zandt, the revered singer-songwriter after whom his daddy named him (...

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Albums of the Year 2020: Steve Earle & The Dukes - Ghosts of West Virginia

In this most dark and dislocating of years, music has sustained me as it always has. Balm, refuge, escape, retreat. A way of opting out of the daily horror show, often with familiar sounds – musicians and albums that have long been old friends,...

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Mary Chapin Carpenter, One Night Lonely livestream review - down-home and perfectly paced

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Songs from Home has been an anchor-point almost since the beginning of lockdown for many people, all of us invited into the singer’s sun-dappled Virginia farmhouse, often the kitchen, where, accompanied by Angus the most...

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Hutchings, Britten Sinfonia, Paterson, Barbican online review – saluting an American classic

When Aaron Copland wrote his most beloved work, Appalachian Spring, in 1943/44, he gave it the unfussy working title of “Ballet for Martha” – Martha being the choreographer Martha Graham, for whom he’d written the score. It was only shortly before...

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Little Wars, Union Theatre online review - richly emotional, but formulaic

Feuds make good theatre. I mean, look at the furious 1970s spat between playwright Lillian Hellman and critic Mary McCarthy. Yikes. So far, I’ve counted three recent stage versions: in 2002 there was Nora Ephron’s Imaginary Friends, followed in 2014...

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Shirley review - hothouse art film about American horror writer

Shirley is one of those films that the mood you’re in when you watch it will dictate whether you think it’s a great psychological horror movie or overheated and pretentious. Go to the cinema wanting to be plunged into a fever dream of gothic...

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Singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter: 'I wanted to do something. I wanted to be useful in some way'

Music has never been more important than in these dark, dislocating and death-stalked days, fear and grief visiting us in ways once unimaginable. The lack of live music – the lack even of the possibility of live music in the near future – is an...

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Album: Bright Eyes - Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was

During the first decade of this century Conor Oberst was critically anointed as a successor to the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. It didn’t seem to make him very happy. His project Bright Eyes, with musical prodigies Nate Walcott...

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Album: The Jayhawks - XOXO

If one song best captures the overall mood of XOXO, it's the Beatles-meets-country strains of "Living in a Bubble". The punchy lyrics offer a timely warning about the effect of 24-hour news. The real impact, however, comes from the gentle, acoustic...

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Album: Neil Young - Homegrown

In the series one finale of metal-detecting sitcom Detectorists, Lance fills in a hole he’s dug after unearthing nothing more than a rusted ring-pull. As the camera pans downwards, we see the riches that were hiding beneath. He was looking in the...

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